The Top 11 Best Email Marketing Services in 2019

For many growing companies, an email marketing service provider is one of the first tools you need in a marketer’s tool belt — and for good reason. Email marketing is a quick way to engage with your leads and nurture them into loyal customers. It’s also extremely cost effective, with some studies showing an ROI of up to 4400%.

As email service providers (or ESPs) continue to develop, features like A/B Testing, automation, and personalization have made the tools even more valuable to a marketer looking to engage with an increasingly fragmented audience.

And, in 2019, email marketing is just as essential as it’s ever been.

But with so many tools available, where should you start? Which tool meets your business’ unique needs? And how can you differentiate one tool from the next?

To help you choose the most powerful tool for your team, let’s take a look at the best email marketing services on the market today.

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1. HubSpot

HubSpot’s email tool is easy to use, has an extremely high deliverability rate, and has all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see within an ESP.

When creating an email, you can pick from one of many drag-and-drop email templates, or you can craft a custom template tailored to your brand. Once you’ve got your template, incorporating content is simple and intuitive.

You can also personalize your emails for different recipients based on device type, country, or list inclusion — or use a simple personalization token to ensure that each email includes content that is specific to each recipient.

Plus, within HubSpot, you can preview an email as a specific recipient, on a specific device type, or within a specific email provider — ensuring your email looks exactly how you want it to regardless of how your customer needs to view it.

When it is time to send, using the smart send feature will ensure that recipients receive your email at an appropriate time. Additionally, you can run A/B tests to compare different versions of an email to understand which one resonates the most with your audience. You also won’t have to worry about deliverability — HubSpot maintains a 99% deliverability rate across the network for all marketing email sends.

Outside of the email marketing functionality, HubSpot offers a wide range of reports on your email’s performance, letting you judge what is resonating with your audience and optimize your strategy accordingly.

You can report on something as broad as your overall email performance in Q1, or you can get granular and see how one particular lead is interacting with your emails.

In addition, HubSpot’s automation platform makes it easy to scale your email marketing strategy, which will help you quickly turn leads into loyal customers.

2. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a popular email marketing service for many industries.

It comes with over 100 email templates that you can either use as is, or customize to meet your specific objectives.

Once your email looks good, you can easily schedule it to send to your contacts. In addition to drip email campaigns, you can also have emails go out at a regular cadence to celebrate specific events — for example, you could have a regular email go out on each customer’s birthday.

Constant Contact also makes it easy to manage your contacts.

Additionally, once a list is uploaded, bounces and unsubscribes are automatically updated. They also have “Plus” features that let you execute very specific types of campaigns — such as a coupon offers, donation collections, or surveys.

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3. Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor prides itself in providing powerful, personalized email marketing tools that are simple and easy to use.

Their drag-and-drop email editor is intuitive, and the included analytics make it easy to optimize your email strategy and create targeted segments of your customers.

Personalization is key for campaign monitor. They use data to increase personalized content, and inform your list segmentation to boost your engagement. They also have a visual marketing automation tool so you can create unique customer journeys at scale.

On top of a great email tool, Campaign monitor has an extensive library of resources, helping you become a pro at email marketing.

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4. iContact

iContact has been providing one of the best email marketing services available since 2003.

In the time since then, they’ve built out an easy to use email marketing tool that helps you and your team see results fast. While they have all the simple editing and automation features of other tools in this list, it’s their support and customer services team that sets iContact apart.

Customers are paired with a strategic advisor, who helps you get your email marketing strategy right and find success with their tool.

They also have Social+ marketing consultants that will help boost your entire online presence through creative social posts that drive traffic to your site.

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5. MailChimp

Although MailChimp has recently added landing pages and various ads tools, their email marketing service is still their claim-to-fame.

They have millions of customers in over 175 countries, and they use the data they collect off those customers to provide you with actionable insights to improve your email strategy. Their tools are flexible enough for an enterprise company, yet simple enough for someone just getting started with email marketing.

Best of all, MailChimp has over 300 integrations that help you match their tool to your business. By using these integrations to further personalize your marketing, you’ll get the most out of your email strategy.

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6. AWeber

Aweber is an email platform built specifically for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Their goal is to make it simple for people just getting started with email marketing to segment their contacts, design a professional email, and start nurturing leads. Customers have praised AWeber for its deliverability, and AWeber’s deliverability team monitors their servers around the clock to ensure your campaign consistently reaches the customers’ inboxes.

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7. SendinBlue

SendinBlue is a marketing software platform that sends more than 30 million automated emails and text messages every day. On top of email, they also have a forms tool that lets you collect new leads, which you can then segment into specific lists, and enter into email nurturing campaigns.

Not sure how to kick off your email nurturing campaign? No problem. SendinBlue has a Workflow Library that gives you access to a number of pre-made automation campaigns tailored to specific goals you might have. If you want to run a more nuanced email nurturing campaign, you can always create a campaign from scratch to meet your specific business needs.

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8. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation platform that offers live chat and a CRM service in addition to their email marketing tool.

By adding a CRM to their marketing tool, ActiveCampaign can help you surface the right leads to your sales team through tools like lead scoring. It also lets you serve up dynamic content within your emails, so you can send one email and provide a different experience to your contacts based on how you segmented them.

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9. AutoPilot

Autopilot differentiates themselves from the other tools in this list through their visual marketing tools.

Everything from their email editor to their automation tool is set up to work through a drag-and-drop interface that is intuitive and easy to use.

They also provide collaborative tools, which let your entire team work together effectively on an automation campaign. Using the ‘annotate & collaborate’ feature, you can quickly mark-up a customer journey and ask your team for feedback or assistance. You can also quickly share your work with your team, ensuring that everyone is on the same page before you start your campaign.

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10. GetResponse

GetResponse is a marketing automation service that is available in over 20 different languages.

On top of email marketing and automation, they also offer a CRM, landing pages, and a complete webinar solution.

They offer over 500 templates to help you get started with email marketing, and also integrate directly with Shutterstock so you always have a library of creative options directly at your fingertips. Their drip campaign tool is managed through a calendar interface, allowing you to see exactly when you will be reaching out to your leads.

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11. Ontraport

Ontraport offers a full suite of marketing automation tools — including e-commerce functionality, which lets you sell directly to your customers online.

Their visual campaign builder allows you to create detailed campaigns to engage with your audience. Create your campaign from scratch, or tap into their marketplace where they offer dozens of the most common marketing campaigns for you to take advantage of, including abandoned cart nurturing, or webinar sign-up and follow-up.

Their platform also gives you insight into detailed reports that provide information on a number of different questions you might have on your pipeline, including what channels your best customers originate from, and how long it takes to convert a lead into a customer.

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The Options Are Endless for Email Marketing Services

Most email marketing tools offer all the essentials needed to craft a basic email newsletter, but your options start to narrow down when you want better customization and deeper data analysis. As a marketer, you might want to consider combining your email marketing tool with a CRM, which will give you all the capability to power your entire customer experience.

Ultimately, for you, the best email marketing tool depends on your team’s purpose and particular business needs.

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Every Question You’ve Ever Had About Keywords, Answered

For a long time, digital marketers organized their entire content calendar around specific keywords. They’d work with their teams to brainstorm core keywords relevant to their products or services, as well as all the variations of that keyword most likely to bring them high-converting traffic.

And, ultimately, it worked. Users from around the world could enter specific search terms into a search engine and, if their intent matched your keywords, they’d land on your site.

Unfortunately, as time went on, publications began stuffing irrelevant, poorly-written content with specific keywords just to get more traffic. Search engines weren’t helping users find the information they needed anymore, because searches weren’t going to relevant information — they were just going to a keyword-stuffed filler page.

Eventually, search engines realized they had to adapt to account for bad content. As search engines, largely led by Google and its constantly-changing search algorithm, became more advanced, the power of keywords waned in favor of a more contextual-based approach to content.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a plethora of articles with titles proclaiming the “death of keywords”, to mark the shift away from a purely keyword-focused world of SEO.

But don’t buy flowers to send to the funeral just yet. While keywords may not be the SEO powerhouse they once were, they’re still hugely important to growing your organic traffic.

Mastering keywords can still help your content strategy substantially as long as you approach them with an updated perspective — here, we’re going to tell you how.

Access Now: 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind This Year

 

Once a search engine crawls a website and determines what it’s about, the search engine is then able to associate a piece of content with certain keywords being searched. This helps relevant content show up for specific searches.

As previously mentioned, for a long time this meant bloggers could stuff their content full of specific keywords and rank well — but that’s no longer the case. More sophisticated search algorithms have changed the way keywords are associated with content.

Now, while keywords are still useful tools for conceptualizing and planning your content strategy, their effectiveness is entirely rooted in context.

Remember, the purpose of a search engine is to deliver the most useful content to each user. Ultimately, search engines aim to deliver a similar experience to the way people communicate with each other in real life. If I were to walk up to you on the street and say “marketing”, you wouldn’t find the conversation very useful (and you might think I’m crazy).

However, if we were sitting together in a cafe and I said, “I enjoy creating content that helps people get better at digital marketing,” you’d have context regarding my intentions, and we’d then be able to engage in a dialogue.

Keywords work the same way. The power of a keyword is not in the word itself, but in the context in which it’s used. When it comes to search engines understanding what your content is about, think of your entire website as various parts of a sentence. You may have a blog post centered on the keyword “software”, but if it’s an orphaned blog post and the rest of your website doesn’t mention software again, you’re probably not going to see much organic traffic to that post.

However, if you’ve written other pieces of content about the various aspects of B2B software and have been fleshing out a topic cluster to show that you’re an authority within the field, then Google is going to have the context it needs. Your keyword “software” won’t be standing on its own — Google and other search engines will be able to see it as a complete thought: “I am an authority on this topic, so this piece of content is likely to prove useful for the person searching this term.”

Unfortunately, the internet is a busy place, and it’s virtually impossible to be the only person writing about any given topic … so even if you’re creating great content about a specific keyword and providing helpful context for search engines to understand your content, how do you stand out from the crowd?

That’s where keyword difficulty comes into play.

Oftentimes, the keywords with the highest difficulty are the ones for which everybody in an industry wants to rank well. For example, broad keywords like “insurance”, “marketing”, or “technology” are all going to be highly competitive because they apply to a wide variety of searches, and there’s already a ton of content written on these topics.

The market for these and similar broad terms is completely saturated. Getting a foothold for a search term like “marketing” would be like constructing a generic coffee shop with no name recognition between a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts — you may get a bit of business here and there, but if someone thinks of coffee in your area, they’re probably going to go to one of the established businesses they know.

For your business to truly gain SEO traction, then, it’s important to take less competitive keywords into consideration. Focusing on less competitive keywords enables you to demonstrate what makes you different and reach an audience that’s best fit for your business.

If we go back to the coffee shop example, concentrating on less competitive keywords is like branding yourself as the only ‘specialty cat cafe’ in the city. In this situation, it’s easier to stand out because you’re focusing on what makes you unique to your target buyer persona.

After all, the person looking for a cat cafe to sit in and relax is probably not the same person wanting a quick cup of coffee on their way to work — just like someone searching for “technology” is not the same person searching for “small business technology setup service”.

What’s great about leaning into less competitive keywords is that it will allow you to clearly define your niche and build your authority within a specific field. Because there is less competition, it’s easier to establish yourself as a thought leader on a given subject — and, ultimately, establishing authority is invaluable when it comes to SEO.

The more authoritative you are on niche topics, the more authoritative your website will be overall. Building authority through great content, backlinks, and user experience is your best bet for getting your foot in the door and being able to compete with established players for more competitive and more valuable keywords.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick to jump to the top of the food chain when it comes to SEO. To rank well on search engines, you need to consistently create high-quality content and plan ahead to think about how all of your content will fit together in the long-term.

1. Clearly define your target persona.

Having a clear understanding of your ideal audience is going to be key for any marketing endeavor. With keyword research, it’s especially important to understand what questions you can answer or problems you can solve for this target persona. At this point, it’s okay to think in broad terms regarding what those problems or questions are.

For instance, if you’re a PR agency, you need to find leads who are interested in hiring a third-party to help them run a PR campaign. To do this, perhaps you begin by writing content that answers the question “How to run a successful PR campaign”.

A broader topic is a good starting point for building a pillar page for your topic cluster.

2. Narrow your focus and investigate competitiveness.

Once you’ve determined the overarching question or problem you are addressing, it’s time to get more specific. Getting more specific allows you to cater your content to your audience, and it helps you leverage less competitive keywords.

I like to narrow my focus by using lsigraph.com. LSI, or latent semantic indexing, is a process of generating search query variations by determining how closely a given search term relates to other search terms. Think of using latent semantic indexing tools as a way of brainstorming and generating a lot of keyword ideas quickly and easily.

From there, using other tools to analyze how competitive a keyword is — such as Google’s Keyword Planner — can help you determine which keywords have the most potential for your business. Again, if you’re organizing your content in a topic cluster, this is a good way to decide what your sub-topics and supporting content will be.

3. Collect data, analyze results, repeat.

As you create content around specific keywords, keep in mind that a great content strategist doesn’t just throw content out randomly to see what sticks. Consider using a tool like Google Search Console to keep track of how you’re performing for your keywords.

Google Search Console can also help you see whether you’re generating traffic from keywords you hadn’t planned on ranking for, which can inform your future strategy. Having this knowledge is crucial for further refining your keyword planning and identifying those green territories that have significant potential to bring you new customers.

Whether you’re just getting started with keyword planning or looking to amplify your SEO efforts that are already underway, keep your customer persona at the front of mind and don’t be afraid to recalibrate your strategy as you collect more data. Great inbound marketing is about having the right content reach your ideal potential customers when they need it, and getting smart with your keyword approach is a fantastic way to do that.

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How to Launch a Successful Online Community: A Step-by-Step Guide

It’s no secret that the way people buy has fundamentally changed over the years.

These days, people are conducting their own research, reading product reviews, and seeking out recommendations before making a decision, and online communities are beginning to play a role in this process.

As of 2018, according to the B2B Buyers Survey Report, 45% of business buyers spent more time and resources researching purchases than they did the previous year. So, the more platforms you can launch your brand on, the more you can strengthen your buyers’ research.

B2B communities like G2Crowd or GetApp can be used to educate prospective customers and help them make better buying decisions, but how do you start?Discover a framework for running more impactful, measurable marketing  campaigns.

These forums provide people with an opportunity to learn from existing customers experiences and offer space for community feedback that can be used to bring trust and authenticity into an otherwise stale procedure.

If you’re launching a new community or refreshing an existing one, taking time to prepare a plan is crucial for ensuring success. The best way to start is to determine why you are building the community to begin with. Reasons may range from you are trying to support your existing business or marketing efforts to wanting to counteract negative reviews and identify passionate fans.

Either way, there are two questions you should consider when creating an online community:

  • Why should I engage with my customers online?
  • What’s the best platform to do it with?

To walk you through the process of setting up an online community in more detail, keep reading.

Free vs. Owned Community Forums: What’s the Right Move?

Although social networks and community platforms seem interchangeable, there actually is a clear distinction.

Social media, in general, is composed of users who have nothing in common (only using the platform because their friends are on it). Communities, however, revolve around a specific issue, and it’s up to you to take the social network and engage certain users on that platform to form a community that’s focused on your industry.

With this in mind, there are two types of communities you can launch: free or owned. Here’s the difference:

Free Community Platforms

There are “free” platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which offer community-like features, but using them has its pros and cons.

One key pro is that it’s free for users and comes with a built-in audience. In other words, you can stand up an account, create content, and publish it to your followers for free, as long as you do the leg work to find out who on this platform you want to reach

The con, on the other hand, is that you don’t truly “own” your community and are therefore beholden to the decisions these companies make for how the platform serves your content to others. Right when you’ve mastered the platform your community lives on, the content algorithm changes, and you’re forced to pivot your content strategy to retain your users’ attention. It’s been known to happen.

Here’s a brief list of free platforms to consider, if you decide to launch a community in this way:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • G2 Crowd
  • GetApp
  • Quora
  • Discourse
  • Glassdoor
  • Slack

Owned Community Platforms

Then there’s the owned platform like a community forum. This is a place that is owned by the brand and offers all the benefits of a social media platform, but with much more control and flexibility on how you communicate with your members. For example, if you launch a blog or website with a forum or comment section for your visitors, this is an owned community that you can manage yourself.

As with free communities, there are pros and cons to an owned community. We’ll start with the con this time: From an audience perspective, you’re starting from scratch. Owned communities give you more freedom over your brand’s messaging, but until your customers find out about your community, you have way more promoting to do to grow that community than you might have on a free platform.

One major pro to owned community platforms is that they give you tighter controls over your branding and messaging — without having to compete with the noise of other communities on the same platform. A toy store on Twitter, for example, might have a built-in audience to engage, but this business has to compete with all the other toy stores on Twitter that are interacting with the same people.

Community platforms also allow you to go beyond the limitations of social networks. Features such as deeper analytics, single sign on (SSO), gamification, more access to your members and custom design allow you to create a better experience for your fans. If you require a secure, private area for your fans to interact with one another, this might be your best option.

1. Choose a platform for your community.

There are two types of forums: one revolving around shared interest and the other that is more informational in nature.

With a shared-interest forum, you’re bringing together people who happen to be interested in a common topic where they can explore and connect with each other on a larger range of topics. Collaboration between members is key here.

Informational forums are largely used when you want to create a space for the community to search for and share content related to your product, service, or designated topic in one location.

Once you’ve identified the use case and the type of engagement you’re after (i.e., customer support operations or brand loyalty), you’ll want to start looking at detailed features that would support your community goals. These can range from:

  • Deeper analytics
  • Ease of use and good user interface
  • Customer support
  • Platform flexibility
  • Integrations
  • Mobile

2. Develop a launch framework.

When determining what business problem you want to resolve with your community, consider the following.

Are you looking to:

  • Increase your customer satisfaction ratings?
  • Decrease costs related to customer support?
  • Increase demand of your product/service?
  • Identify and mobilize influencers and advocates?
  • Increase collaboration?

What is your use case? Will you use the information gained internally, externally, or a combination of both?

Knowing these answers will make it easier for you to identify why you are launching your online community and help you align its purpose to your intended goals.

3. Identify key internal stakeholders for the community.

After determining the need for forming your community, your next step is to identify your company’s stakeholders. You can consider three categories of stakeholders:

  1. Those who will be managing the community. For external facing communities, this group of stakeholders may include the community manager, marketing department, and/or customer support. The stakeholders may vary greatly for internal communities.
  2. Those who will be impacted by the community. If your community is external facing, marketing is generally involved because the answers you are seeking will have the most impact on them. If there is feedback from the community regarding product improvements, product management may also be involved.
  3. Upper management. This stakeholder is the person who is responsible for the community and all that are affected by it. Usually, an executive could be an operations manager or a CMO who oversee all digital experiences.

Another way to go about identifying stakeholders is to lump the role of the community manager along with the social media management role. Your marketing team, operations department, customer service, or perhaps a specially created department may be put in charge of the community launch. In this instance, each department is likely to put focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) that are meaningful to them.

Marketing KPIs

  • Market share
  • Customer sentiment
  • Mobilizing influencers and advocates
  • NPS – Net Promoter Score

Operations

  • Operational efficiency
  • Reducing support costs

Customer Service

  • CSAT – Customer Satisfaction Score
  • NPS

Product Management

  • Product testing
  • Market research
  • Beta testing
  • Customer feedback

Typically, only one person will be tasked with the community launch. However, by leveraging resources and other talent within your company, your launch can be less stressful and more successful.

4. Set up your community.

Making a decision on what platform to use for your community is the first step. If you are launching the community on your own or taking a team approach, you will want to make sure that you or your team are familiar with the software you will be using. This is a good opportunity to play with a demo or go through some hands-on training.

After you and your team have a good understanding of the software you’ll be using, you can move on to making some setup decisions. These include:

  • Keeping your community pre-launch private. You do not want outsiders having access to your community until you are ready, so make sure to enable your privacy settings.
  • Displaying a list of recent discussions for the forum on the “homepage view.” New members or first time visitors may be more apt to join in the discussion if they see what is trending in your community.
  • Creating your initial categories. Remember, your initial category list is not carved in stone and you should avoid creating too many categories at the start. Keep it simple and let your categories evolve. This will help keep a handle on discussion noise.
  • Reviewing the sign-up process for members. The easier the process is, the more likely people will want to sign up for your community. You should consider a setting up a single sign-on (SSO). It is also important to thoroughly test your sign-up process before the pre-launch.
  • Defining the roles your staff and members. Decide what roles will be included within your community, such as moderators or super members. Consider who on your staff will be the community’s admin, moderators, or community manager.
  • Assigning permissions for roles. You will need to assign and test permissions to the roles you create. For example, you may restrict new accounts from posting pictures or links.
  • Deciding which features will be enabled. This includes plug-ins, add-ons, and other features that are integrated into your online forum. Some features may not be needed right away, but others may be crucial to getting your team the data they need.
  • Setting up gamification. Start thinking about the perks you want to reward your members with. This could be badges or other types of recognition for different achievements, such as being a beta-tester.
  • Implementing your theme. You will want to tie your forum into your brand. Do not settle for impersonal default settings. For example, utilize your company’s color scheme and add other personal touches.
  • Configuring spam controls. Take advantage of your software’s spam controls. Test the controls against a baseline of your trusted users. Adjust the settings as needed if you find that valid content is being labeled as spam.
  • Setting up outgoing email. Decide what email address will be used for forum notifications. Review your welcome and registration emails to make sure they say what you want.
  • Testing. You need to test everything before over and over until you are happy with all the parts of your forum. As you get closer to launch-time, your testing should become more stringent. Consider all types of probably scenarios and prepare yourself beforehand that not everything will be perfect. Get ready to decide on a launch date.

5. Begin a soft launch.

Once you are satisfied with the workings on your community, it is time to get ready for a soft launch. The purpose of a soft launch is to get your community ready for your full and public launch.

A great example of a soft launch is from BigFish Games with the introduction of their new game: Dungeon Boss. While preparing for the launch, they placed their app in the Apple Canada store and drove users to their community forum in a closed and private environment. They got a lot of customer feedback, some of which was incorporated into the Dungeon Boss game title. Consequently, when they launched worldwide, it became one of their most downloaded games.

Your soft launch should occur in three stages:

1. Preparing for the Soft-Launch

At this point, your community should be ready to be launched. All test content has been removed and any known issues have been fixed or have been scheduled to be fixed. It is time to pre-populate your community with quality content that will spark discussion and make good use of your existing content. Start off with at least 10 discussions using your existing material. Recruit your colleagues to get the ball rolling with these discussions. Tone is important, so you will want to set the right tone before moving on to the internal soft-launch.

2. Internal Soft-Launch

The purpose of the internal soft-launch is to identify problems using trusted people from your organization, colleagues, and friends before your forum goes public. While they are trying out your community, they can provide you with valuable feedback and report errors they find before moving to the full launch. This phase will allow your moderators an opportunity to learn how to use the tools that will be used in your forum. Any training deficiencies should be addressed and additional training provided if needed. Request feedback from your internal users. Then, set a deadline to move to the next phase: your public soft-launch.

3. Public Soft-Launch

This launch should be limited to a select audience that you will encourage to give you feedback on your new community forum. To form this group, try requesting volunteers from trusted customers, creating a banner on your website, or including a mention of it in your company newsletter. During your public soft-launch, address the following questions:

  • Who should you include in this group?
  • What problems do you want to solve while in this beta stage?
  • What is needed to transition the community to live status
  • What is your hard deadline to take your community to fully live?

Your goals should include:

  • Getting the public involved
  • Refining your community
  • Receiving feedback
  • Ensuring that your moderators and team are comfortable with the platform

6. Promote your community.

Once you have your date set, it’s time to get the word out to your target audience. The best way to do this is to take advantage of your existing presence online. Promote your launch all over your website, through email communications, and by having your sales team and customer service reps tell your existing and potential customers about the launch.

Here are some more tips that will help you drive the first 100 members to your community:

  • Invite your contacts. No, it’s not always fun to bombard your family members, friends, or professional contacts about something you’re working on … but it works.
  • Discuss with everyone and anyone. Get in the habit of talking to people everywhere you go, especially if your community is centered around a broad product or service that has value for many people.
  • Enlist the help of new members through gamification. Ask your growing, early group to help you broaden the network by inviting their friends, colleagues, and digital connections. You can encourage this through contests or reward systems integrated into your platform.
  • Partner with influencers. Collaborating with a related and complementary company can be an effective way to promote your new community and welcome new members who like both products and services.

Make sure you have configured all your Google and Webmaster tools accordingly. Provide a sitemap and make your community visible. If you have completed all these steps, the odds are that your online community launch will be successful.

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6 Fundamental Video Marketing Tips for Every Type of Skill Level

Nowadays, most marketers obsess over how they can amplify their content’s reach as much as possible. More views means more leads and customers, right? While this convention can be true, it’ll only pan out if you optimize your videos for humans before you optimize them for algorithms.

Resonance is the most important determinant of whether your audience will take action, and your video’s creative is the most important determinant of whether your video will resonate with your audience. So even if your video reaches a million people, if it doesn’t resonate with them, it won’t persuade anyone to take your preferred action, let alone remember your brand.

With this insight in mind, let’s go over six fundamental video marketing tips that’ll help you craft videos that resonate with as many people as it reaches.

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1. Hook your audience.

When Facebook analyzed their users’ video consumption data in 2016, they discovered that 45% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will keep watching it for at least 30 seconds.

This data indicates that sparking your audience’s curiosity with an attention-grabbing title isn’t enough to engage them. You also need to instantly hook your viewers within the first three seconds of your video — the human attention span isn’t long enough to be entertained by sluggish content.

But what actually hooks people? What we’ve discovered at HubSpot is that an effective video hook visually engages viewers and previews the video’s core message. Creating these types of hooks can simultaneously grab your viewers’ attention and generate interest in the rest of the video.

2. Tell stories.

In the neuroscience field, researchers have proven that storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and resonate emotionally with them. The human brain is programmed to crave, seek out, and respond to well-crafted narrative — that’ll never change.

In fact, when someone tells you a story, they can plant their personal experiences and ideas directly into your mind, so you start to feel what they feel. For instance, if someone describes eating a plate of lobster mac and cheese, your sensory cortex lights up. If someone recounts scoring their first touchdown, your motor cortex enlivens.

In other words, powerful stories evoke empathy because they activate parts of the brain that’d operate if you actually experienced the stories’ events. And by using their own memories to recreate your story’s sensory details, your audience can turn your video’s events into their own ideas and experience.

3. Evoke positive emotions.

According to Psychology Today, brand preference is largely an emotional decision. Humans associate the same personality traits to brands as they do with people, so choosing your favorite brand is like choosing your best friend. We engage with the brands that make us feel good, just like how we spend time with the people who make us feel good.

If you want your videos to resonate with your viewers, consider kindling warm feelings rather than fear, anger, or disgust. In fact, happiness, hope, and excitement are some of the most common emotions that drive viral content, so if your video can evoke these emotions, it could rake in a ton of views and generate a lot of engagement.

4. Make your videos “sticky”.

In their book, Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath taught readers a model for making ideas “sticky”, or, in other words, making ideas digestible, memorable, and compelling.

By analyzing countless amounts of “sticky” ideas, like JFK’s “Man on the Moon” speech and even some conspiracy theories, the Heath Brothers noticed that a “sticky” idea usually follows six principles:

  1. Simple: its core message must be easy to grasp.
  2. Unexpected: it should break cliche and evoke enough curiosity to grab someone’s attention and hold it.
  3. Concrete: it should be vividly painted in people’s minds.
  4. Credible: it should be supported by evidence.
  5. Emotional: it should have a purpose and relate to people.
  6. Story-driven: it should tell a story that inspires people to act.

The Heath Brothers recommend following as many of their “Made to Stick” principles as possible when devising your idea, so check out this blog post about The Psychology Behind Marketing Viral Videos to learn how five brands followed most of these principles with one of their videos and succeeded in capturing viral attention.

5. Rely on visuals.

When we were babies, we relied on vision to associate objects with behaviors, like a ball meaning play time. Vision was the only way to learn about the world.

That’s why you can understand visual information in 250 milliseconds and why your visual system activates over 50% of your brain. Watching something has always been the best way to learn.

Visual storytelling helps people grasp concepts and data easily, so consider complementing your video’s text and narration with dynamic graphics, popular movie and TV scenes, and footage of real people. If you do this, your viewers can listen to the information and watch a visual representation of it, helping them form a concrete understanding of your video’s core idea.

6. Add appropriate soundtracks to your videos.

Choosing the right soundtrack can be the difference between a video that grips your audience from start to finish and one that they can barely get halfway through.

Play a fitting soundtrack or jingle in your video, and you can grab your audience’s attention and evoke the specific emotions and feelings you want them to associate with your brand. Neglect the musical aspect of your video, and people might actually think less of your brand.

In a 1994 study that tested music’s effect on brand attitudes, half the participants watched an apple juice commercial with music while the other half watched it without music. 23% of participants who saw the apple juice commercial with music reported that one of the beverage’s benefits was “drinking a natural drink”. But out of the participants who watched the commercial without music, only 4% reported the same belief about the apple juice brand.

Music can make your videos much more captivating, impactful, and, in turn, convincing. So whether you’re creating fun social media videos, persuasive product videos, or even serious training videos, you must remember that music can separate your video from the rest of the pack.

Resonance is arguably more important than reach.

For most marketers today, reach is the metric they want to see growing on a consistent basis. But without strong emotional resonance, having a wide reach doesn’t really matter. So before you start optimizing your videos for algorithms, remember to optimize them for humans first and craft the most compelling content you possibly can.

video marketing

KOLs: What They Are & Why They’re Key to Your Marketing Strategy

Over the past few years, influencer marketing has become an incredibly successful strategy for brands looking to reach a targeted audience on social media. And, with an average ROI of $6.50 for each dollar spent, it’s undoubtedly powerful.

If you’re a marketer, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the term ‘influencer’ before. But what about key opinion leaders, or KOLs … have you heard of them?

Despite certain commonalities between KOLs and influencers, the two terms aren’t synonymous. And if your brand is looking to reach a specific, niche demographic, you might want to consider implementing a strategy that incorporates KOLs.

Here, we’re going to explore what KOLs are, and why they’re a critical component of your 2019 marketing strategy.

Click here to learn how to grow your network and become an influencer in your  industry.

What are KOLs?

To consider what a KOL (key opinion leader) is, let’s start with a real-life example.

Jaclyn Hill is a makeup artist and YouTuber whose channel focuses primarily on beauty products. With 5.8 million YouTube subscribers (as well as 6.2 million followers on Instagram), Hill is considered a makeup and beauty expert by her online community.

In 2015, Becca Cosmetics partnered with Hill to create a limited-edition highlighter known as “Champagne Pop”. The product was extremely successful, breaking Sephora’s record for most-purchased product on its first day of release.

Becca Cosmetics could have chosen another influencer to collaborate with, but the brand knew Hill had a specific niche community they wanted to reach.

Hill was ultimately more than just another influencer to Becca Cosmetics — she was a KOL, or key opinion leader.

A KOL is similar to an influencer in regards to follower size, but a KOL has a more targeted audience. For instance, Hill’s YouTube channel is dedicated solely to beauty trends and products. If she were to post a cooking video, it might not be well-received by her community. Her fans rely on her as an authority figure in the beauty space.

Since KOLs are considered experts on certain topics, they’re often regarded as trustworthy and authentic. Their authenticity enables them to have influence on the opinions and preferences of their audiences — which is why partnering with a KOL is a particularly powerful strategy for your brand.

There are three major benefits to using a KOL as part of your marketing strategy. Let’s dive into those, now.

Benefits of KOLs for Your Marketing Strategy

1. A KOL can help you target your ideal audience.

Whether you’re interested in boosting awareness or generating leads, a KOL can help you quickly identify and reach your ideal audience. Essentially, a KOL has done all the hard work for you — she’s taken the time to engage with a specific, niche audience, and she’s grown a community centered around a specific interest.

A KOL is a particularly powerful opportunity to reach your ideal audience. For instance, let’s say your business sells organic smoothie products. Your product is relatively niche, so you don’t necessarily need to cast a wide net when attracting and engaging new leads.

Rather than posting Facebook ads or cultivating a strong presence on Google, you might be better off reaching out to a KOL like Massy Arias, who has 2.5 million followers and posts content exclusively related to health and fitness. Since Arias’ typically posts organic health and fitness content and has proven an expert in this realm, her fans are more likely to trust when she recommends your product.

2. A KOL can help you generate sales.

A KOL can help you attract attention to a new product or raise awareness of your brand, both of which can help you boost sales. With 82% of consumers saying they’d follow the recommendation of an influencer, it stands to reason a KOL could have tremendous impact on your bottom line.

Alternatively, your company might consider collaborating with a KOL to create an exclusive product — like “Champagne Pop” by Becca Cosmetics and Jaclyn Hill. Since your KOL is well-aware of industry trends and uniquely engaged with the consumer market, she’s more likely to help you identify areas for improvement in your current product or overall marketing strategy — so you’ll get the most for your money if you use her as a collaborator, as well.

3. Increase your own reach.

A KOL can help ensure you’re reaching the ideal target market for your brand — and, additionally, she can enable you to reach a much larger percentage of potential consumers than you might’ve otherwise.

Without a hefty marketing budget, it could be difficult for your brand to reach one million people via traditional advertising methods — plus, traditional ads don’t allow you to target a specific group of people.

Alternatively, you could collaborate with a KOL who has one million followers on YouTube, Instagram, or another platform, and reach one million people who are specifically interested in your industry. A KOL partnership is cheaper, quicker, and potentially more effective than most traditional advertising methods — so, if it makes sense for your brand, why not try it out?

How to Find a KOL

Finding a key opinion leader in your industry is relatively easy. On YouTube, you might try searching keywords related to your product or service, and peruse the various accounts that show up as search results. Alternatively, you could search hashtags on Instagram to find influencers who specialize in a specific, targeted field.

You might also check out “The Ultimate List of Instagram Influencers in Every Industry (94 and Counting!)” — since these influencers are separated by niche industries, you’ll likely find a key opinion leader whose audience directly matches your target market.

free guide to influencer marketing

23 of the Best Personal Websites to Inspire Your Own

Some refer to it as a full-time job in itself. Others compare it to dating. And several cats over at BuzzFeed think it just plain stinks.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you’re applying for a job, you’re typically asked to submit a resume and cover letter, or maybe your LinkedIn profile. But there are better ways to stand out from your competition, and building a personal website is one of them.

Why You Need a Personal Website

Here’s the thing about resumes and cover letters: No matter how unique you try to make your own, for the most part, they tend to read dry. And there’s a good reason for it: It’s supposed to be a single, no-frills page that documents your work experience. And while being concise is good, there’s very little opportunity to convey your uniqueness, or for your personality to shine through at all for that matter.

While a resume is a sole, largely unchanging document, a personal website can be customized and updated according to what you’re working on, or what you want to emphasize. It’s both fluid and current.

Did you know 70% of employers say they’ve rejected a job candidate because they learned something undesirable about them online? This doesn’t mean you should scrub the internet of everything about you — in fact, this statistic underscores the importance of polishing your online presence. Recruiters are looking you up online, and a personal website that tells the story you want to tell can make all the difference between you and a competing candidate.

If you’re thinking about creating a personal website of your very own, check out the examples below that hit the nail on the head. Inspired by a particular type of website? Click one of the following links to jump to that section of this article:

Personal Resume Websites

Whether you create a single-page site or a larger portfolio, the web resume serves as a more personalized option for sharing information and demonstrating your technological skills — and it can be used by all types of job seekers.

Even if you have very little work experience, you can leverage a website to build a better picture of your capabilities and yourself as a candidate, while leaning on your traditional resume to provide the basic background information.

1. Gary Sheng

Personal website of Gary Sheng with a picture of him on the homepage followed by details of his resume

Unlike a standard resume document, Sheng’s website makes it easy for him to include logos and clickable links that allow his software engineering and web development skills to shine.

We love that visitors can choose to scroll down his page to view all of the website’s categories (“About Me,” “My Passion,” etc.), or jump to a specific page using the top navigation.

The “My System” section reads like a company mission statement, and this personal touch helps humanize his work and make him more memorable.

2. Raf Derolez

Personal website of Raf Derolez with black background and large white font creatively outlining his resume

Derolez’s web resume is modern, cool, and informative. It shows off his personality, branding, and developing skills in a way that’s still very simple and clear. Not to mention, his use of unique fonts and geometric overlays ascribes personality to his name in an eye-catching way.

Want to get in touch with Derolez? Simply click the CTA located at the bottom of the page to open up an email that’s pre-addressed directly to him. Or select one of the social media links to connect with him on platforms like Twitter — where the look and feel of the visual assets happens to seamlessly align with the branding of his website. Well played, Derolez.

Twitter profile of Raf Derolez

3. Pascal van Gemert

Image from Gyazo

Pascal van Gemert is a web developer from the Netherlands, and his personal resume website proves you can include a lot of information on a single webpage if it’s organized properly.

The more experience you get, the more of it you’ll have to share with employers. Pascal’s resume, shown above, uses an extended scroll bar to keep visitors from having to navigate to a different page when learning about him. He also visualizes his career in different ways between “Profile,” “Experiences,” “Skills,” and “Projects,” while using a consistent teal color to unite all of his resume contents under one brand.

4. Brandon Johnson

Personal website of Brandon Johnson with black and white resume and space theme

Johnson’s incredible resume must be seen to be believed. Beautiful images of planets help to complement his planetary science background, and animations make his resume more of an experience than a document.

In terms of design, the textured, multi-layered background adds greater depth to the two-dimensional page in a way that evokes feelings of space and the planetary systems, which Johnson’s work focuses on.

5. Quinton Harris

Personal website of Quinton Harris with resume details including personal photography and storytelling

Harris’ resume uses photos to tell his personal story — and it reads kind of like a cool, digital scrapbook. It covers all the bases of a resume — and then some — by discussing his educational background, work experience, and skills in a highly visual way.

Not to mention, the copy is fantastic. It’s clear that Harris took the time to carefully choose the right words to describe each step of his personal and professional journey. For example, the section on storytelling reads:

NYC, my new home, is filled with the necessary secrets to not only propel my craft forward, but my identity as an artist. With every lens snapped and every pixel laid, I am becoming me.

Finally, at the final navigational point (note the scrolling circles on the left-hand side of the page), users are redirected to quintonharris.com, where he goes on to tell his story in more detail.

Website homepage of Quinton Harris that says 'Griot in Training' across the front

6. Sean Halpin

Personal resume website of web designer Sean Halpin, using soft green illustrations

Halpin’s resume is short, sweet, and to the point, which is authentic to his voice and personal branding outlined on the site. The white space allows his designs and copy to pop and command the reader’s attention, which helps to improve readability — especially on mobile devices:

Sean_Halpin_Mobile.png
Sean_Halpin_Mobile_Site.png

Best Practices for Resume Websites

  1. Code your resume so it can be crawled by search engines.
  2. Offer a button to download your resume in PDF so the hiring manager can add it to your file.
  3. Keep branding consistent between the website and document versions: Use similar fonts, colors, and images so you’re easy to recognize.
  4. Be creative and authentic to yourself. Think about the colors, images, and media you want to be a part of your story that you couldn’t include in a document resume.

Personal Portfolios

Building an online portfolio is a highly useful personal branding and marketing tool if your work experience and skill set call for content creation. In fact, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, writers, and content marketers can all use web portfolios to show off their skills in a more user-friendly way than a resume or hard copy portfolio.

7. Tony D’Orio

Personal portfolio website of Tony D'Orio showing portraits of people

It’s important to keep the design of your visual portfolio simple to let images capture visitors’ attention, and D’Orio accomplishes this by featuring bold photographs front-and-center on his website. His logo and navigation menu are clear and don’t distract from his work. And he makes it easy for potential customers to download his work free of charge.

Want to give it a try? Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner, then select + Create a PDF to select as many images as you’d like to download.

Link to create a PDF from Tony D'Orio's personal online portfolio, featuring tiled images of his photography

Once you open the PDF, you’ll notice that it comes fully equipped with D’Orio’s business card as the cover … just in case you need it.

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8. Verena Michelitsch

Image from Gyazo

When you’re a designer, not one pixel on your personal website should go unused. Verena Michelitsch’s portfolio, shown above, is covered end to end in artwork. From her extensive library of work, she chose to exhibit multiple colors, styles, and dimensions so visitors can see just how much range she has as a designer. It’s a perfect example of the classic adage, “show, don’t tell.”

9. Gari Cruze

Personal portfolio of Gari Cruze with tiled images of his photography and links to his work

Cruze is a copywriter. But by turning his website into a portfolio featuring images from different campaigns he’s worked on, he makes visitors want to keep clicking to learn more about him. Also, there’s a great CTA at the top of the page that leads visitors to his latest blog post.

His site’s humorous copy — specifically in the “17 Random Things” and “Oh Yes, They’re Talking” sections — serves to show off his skills, while making himself more memorable as well. These pages also include his contact information on the right-hand side, making it easy to reach out and connect at any point:

Gary_Cruze.png

10. Melanie Daveid

Personal website portfolio of Melanie Daveid with script font and simple illustration theme

Daveid’s website is a great example of “less is more.”

This developer’s portfolio features clear, well-branded imagery of campaigns and apps that Daveid worked on, and she shows off her coding skills when you click through to see the specifics of her work.

While it might seem overly minimal to only include three examples of her work, Daveid did her portfolio a service by including her best, most noteworthy campaigns. At the end of the day, it’s better to have fewer examples of excellence in your portfolio than many examples of mediocrity.

11. The Beast Is Back

Personal website portfolio of The Beast Is Back, also known as Christopher Lee, with tiled images of colorful design work

Christopher Lee’s portfolio is busy and colorful in a way that works. When you read more about Lee on his easily navigable site, you realize that such a fun and vibrant homepage is perfect for an illustrator and toy designer.

Known by his brand name, “The Beast Is Back,” Lee’s web portfolio highlights eye-catching designs with recognizable brands, such as Target and Mario, along with links to purchase his work. This is another gallery-style portfolio with pops of color that make it fun and give it personality, thus making it more memorable.

12. Daniel Grindrod

This freelance videographer is another example of a simple but sleek portfolio, organizing the many types of media Daniel’s done into the categories by which his potential clients would likely want to browse. The opening video spot on the homepage — labeled “Daniel Grindrod 2018,” as shown on the still image — also ensures his site visitors that he’s actively creating beautiful work.

daniel-grindrod-portfolio

Best Practices for Portfolio Websites

  1. Use mainly visuals. Even if you’re showcasing your written work, using logos or other branding is more eye-catching for your visitors.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your personality, style, and sense of humor could be what sets you apart from other sites!
  3. Organization is key. If your portfolio is full of photos, logos, and other images, make sure it’s easy for visitors to navigate to where they can contact you.
  4. Brand yourself. Choose a logo or icon to make your information easily identifiable.

Personal Blogs

Consistently publishing on a blog is a great way to attract attention on social media and search engines — and drive traffic to your site. Blogging is a smart way to give your work a personality, chronicle your experiences, and stretch your writing muscles. You might write a personal blog if you’re a writer by trade, but virtually anyone can benefit from adding a blog to their site and providing useful content for their audience.

13. The Everywhereist

Personal blog of Everywhereist with green and red homepage

This blog looks a bit busier, but its consistent branding helps visitors easily navigate the site. The travel blog uses globe iconography to move visitors around the site, making it easy to explore sections beyond the blog.

Owned by writer Geraldine DeRuiter, this blog also features a “Best Of” section that allows new visitors to learn about what the blog covers to get acclimated. The color scheme is warm, neutral, and free of excess clutter that could distract from the content.

14. Side Hustle Nation

Homepage of Side Hustle Nation, the personal business blog of Nick Loper

Side Hustle Nation is the business blog of Nick Loper, an advisor whose website offers tons of valuable financial advice for individual business owners. His homepage, shown above, sets a lighthearted yet passionate tone for his readers. It suggests you’ll get friendly content all committed to a single goal: financial freedom. The green call to action, “Start Here,” helps first-time visitors know exactly how to navigate his website.

side-hustle-nation-personal-blog-posts

On Nick’s blog page, shown above, you’ll notice two unique types of content: “My Podcast Production Process,” the top post; and “Quarterly Progress Report,” the third post down. The top post shows readers how Nick, himself, creates content that helps his business grow, while the third post down keeps his readers up to date on his blog’s growth over time. These content types give people a peek behind the curtain of your operation, showing them you practice what you preach and that your insight is tried and true.

15. fifty coffees

Homepage of Fifty Coffees, one of the best personal blogs online

The website fifty coffees chronicles the author’s series of coffee meetings in search of her next job opportunity, and it does a great job of using photography and visuals to assist in the telling of her lengthy stories.

The best part? Each post ends with numbered takeaways from her meetings for ease of reading comprehension. The high-quality photography used to complement the stories is like icing on the cake.

16. Smart Passive Income

smart-passive-income-personal-blog

This is Pat Flynn’s personal blog, a hub for financial advice for people who want to start their own business. His homepage, shown above, lets you know exactly who’s behind the content and what his mission is for the content he’s offering readers.

smart-passive-income-personal-blog-content-types

His blog page also comes with a unique navigational tool, shown above, that isn’t just categorized by subject matter. Rather, it’s organized by what the reader wants to accomplish. From “Let’s Start Something New” to “Let’s Optimize Your Work,” this site structure helps customize the reader’s experience so you’re not forcing them to merely guess at which blog posts are going to solve their problem. This helps to keep people on your website for longer and increase your blog’s traffic in the long term.

17. Minimalist Baker

Personal food blog of Minimalist Baker with yellow and white website theme

I’m not highlighting Dana’s food blog just because the food looks delicious and I’m hungry. Her blog uses a simple white background to let her food photography pop, unique branding to make her memorable, and mini-bio to personalize her website.

18. Kendra Schaefer

Personal blog of Kendra Schaefer

Kendra’s blog is chock-full of information about her life, background, and professional experience, but she avoids overwhelming visitors by using a light background and organizing her blog’s modules to minimize clutter. She also shares links to additional writing samples, which bolsters her writing authority and credibility.

19. Mr. Money Mustache

Personal finance blog of Mr. Money Mustache with wood themed background and illustrated logo

Mr. Money Mustache might take on an old-school, Gangs of New York-style facade, but his blog design — and the advice the blog offers — couldn’t be more fresh (he also doesn’t really look like that).

This financial blog is a funny, browsable website that offers sound insight into money management for the layperson. While his personal stories help support the legitimacy of his advice, the navigation links surrounding his logo make it easy to jump right into his content without any prior context around his brand.

Best Practices for Blogs

  1. Keep your site simple and clutter-free to avoid additional distractions beyond blog posts.
  2. Publish often. Company blogs that publish more than 16 posts per months get nearly 3.5X the web traffic of blogs that published less than four posts per month.
  3. Experiment with different blog styles, such as lists, interviews, graphics, and bullets.
  4. Employ visuals to break up text and add context to your discussion.

Personal Demo Websites

Another cool way to promote yourself and your skills is to create a personal website that doubles as a demonstration of your coding, design, illustration, or developer skills. These sites can be interactive and animated in a way that provides information about you and also shows hiring managers why they should work with you. This is a great website option for technical and artistic content creators such as developers, animators, UX designers, website content managers, and illustrators.

20. Albino Tonnina

Personal demo of web developer Albino Tonnina with animated homepage showing his work

Tonnina is showcasing advanced and complicated web development skills, but the images and icons he uses are still clear and easy to understand. He also offers a simple option to view his resume at the beginning of his site, for those who don’t want to scroll through the animation.

21. Robby Leonardi

robby_leonardi.gif

Leonardi’s incredible demo website uses animation and web development skills to turn his portfolio and resume into a video game for site visitors. The whimsical branding and unique way of sharing information ensure that his site is memorable to visitors.

22. Samuel Reed

Personal demo of Samuel Reed with plain code themed homepage

Reed uses his page as a start-to-finish demo of how to code a website. His website starts as a blank white page and ends as a fully interactive site that visitors can watch him code themselves. The cool factor makes this website memorable, and it makes his skills extremely marketable.

23. Devon Stank

Personal demo of Devon Stank with black homepage and 'Let's Build Something Amazing Together' written across the front

Stank’s demo site does a great job of showing that he has the web design chops and it takes it a step further by telling visitors all about him, his agency, and his passions. It’s the perfect balance of a demo and a mini-resume.

Plus, we love the video summary. It’s a consumable summary that at once captures Stank’s personality and credentials.

Best Practices for Demo Websites

  1. Brand yourself and use consistent logos and colors to identify your name and your skills amongst the bevy of visuals.
  2. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many visuals at once — especially if your demo is animated. Be sure to keep imagery easy to understand so visitors aren’t bombarded when they visit your site.

professional bio

The 10 Best Free Email Marketing Tools in 2019

In case you didn’t know, email usage is at an all-time high. More than 3.7 billion people use email worldwide.

With email usage so high, it’s no wonder you likely constantly receive marketing emails from businesses. Email marketing works — even in the B2B space.

In fact, 86% of B2B marketers rely on email marketing campaigns to promote new business, which begs the question — are you using email marketing effectively for your business?

More importantly, are you using email marketing consistently at all?

There are a ton of email marketing service tools out there to help you with your email marketing, some of which are completely free. But, it’s important to note, not all free email marketing tools offer the same features.

As a new business, you’re probably most concerned with how many emails you’re able to send, which features you have access to, and whether you can upgrade your account as your business grows.

You’re probably also thinking about deliverability, and whether your emails will be consistently delivered to your contacts’ inboxes. Plus, you likely want a tool that’s both easy-to-use and doesn’t require advanced technical skills.

Fortunately, we have you covered — here, we’ve ranked the best free email marketing tools that you can use for your business in 2019.

Download Now: Email Marketing Planning Template 

1. HubSpot’s Free Email Marketing Tool

HubSpot offers a reliable and feature-packed email marketing tool that’s suited for growing businesses — for free. You can create professional marketing emails that engage and grow your audience with the easy drag-and-drop email builder. With the drag-and-drop email builder, you don’t need to wait on IT or designers for help. Instead, you can easily create beautiful emails that your audience will love. HubSpot’s tool helps you achieve incredible marketing results with little effort.

On top of the free email tool, you can use the HubSpot CRM for free to create tailored touch-points for your customers. HubSpot email is automatically connected with the HubSpot CRM, so you can tailor relevant emails based on any details you have — such as form submissions and website activity.

Using the CRM, you can include personalized content in your emails, like first name and company name, to ensure your contacts feel like they are being personally addressed, all while tracking email activity in the CRM. This contributes to efficient scaling opportunities should your business outgrow the free tools and require more robust automation features, such as workflows.

Optimizing your emails has never been easier. Using the tool’s email reporting analytics, you’ll learn how to send more relevant and optimized emails to your audience.

The HubSpot email tool is free for up to 2,000 email sends per month, with upgrade solutions starting at $50 with Marketing Hub Starter.

2. Send Pulse

Send Pulse has over 130+ templates to choose from, or you can create your own using drag-and-drop functionality. Under the free plan, you’ll have access to Send Pulse’s highly regarded support team, including support via live chat.

In terms of functionality, Send Pulse has a “Resend” feature that allows you to resend unopened emails with different subject lines, which is valuable for time scrapped marketers. What’s great about Send Pulse is that it has prices for all its services. For example, if you need to send SMS, you can add an SMS package to your email marketing service package.

They also offer web pushes, SMTP, Viber, and more. Since the service started in 2015, there still isn’t a ton of API support, but that’s something Send Pulse is working on improving for marketers who are in need of technical functionality.

SendPulse offers 15,000 emails per month for free for up to 2,500 subscribers. Pricing starts at $9.85 per month for unlimited emails and up to 2,500 subscribers.

Image source: SendPulse

3. MailChimp

MailChimp’s email tool is particularly useful for small and medium-sized businesses, since the free plan offers up to 12,000 email sends per month for up to 2,000 subscribers. Plus, you get access to features such as list segmentation, A/B testing, contact profiles and more. However, it’s important to note you’ll have MailChimp branding in your email footers with the free plan, and won’t have access to premium support.

If you use e-commerce software, you’ll be happy to know that MailChimp integrates with e-commerce providers including WooCommerce and Magento. You’ll also be able to integrate Mailchimp with WordPress if your business uses WordPress as its content management system. MailChimp offers reporting for emails, but the details may not be as robust as you would like for optimal improvements.

The MailChimp Free Forever plan allows up to 12,000 email sends per month to a subscriber limit of 2,000. The next tier upgrade tier costs $10 per month for unlimited email sends to a maximum of 500 subscribers.

4. Zoho Campaigns

Zoho Campaigns is a good option for small to enterprise-sized businesses, depending on how quickly you’re scaling. With the Zoho Campaigns free plan, you get access to features such as A/B testing, reports, and templates. If you’re already using the Zoho CRM, it makes sense to check out Zoho campaigns to see how email and the CRM work together.

It’s important to note — while the free version provides a lot of features, most of these features have limitations. Additionally, it can be difficult to get started using Zoho Campaigns because it requires customization before sending emails.

Zoho offers 12,000 emails per month for up to 2,000 subscribers. Pricing starts at $5 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

Image source: Zoho

5. Moosend

Moosend is ideal for people looking to get their feet wet in email marketing. The free tier comes feature-packed, but you’re maxed at 1,000 subscribers and won’t have a dedicated IP address.

Moosend offers an easy to use drag-and-drop editor, email marketing automation triggers, real-time analytics, and list segmentation features. Moosend doesn’t offer a CRM, but if you’re looking to solely do email marketing, it might be a good start for your business.

The company is ranked as having great support and satisfaction scores. If you’re a growing business, you’ll only need to pay for subscribers. The next upgrade is $10, and you’ll get up to 2,000 subscribers.

Image source: Moosend

6. SendInBlue

If your business relies heavily on transactional emails, such as forgotten password help and invoice receipts, then SendInBlue might be ideal for you. With their extensive developer APIs, you’ll be able to integrate with their email system to achieve custom and required technical processes. Plus, while the service was initially known for having issues with delivery rates, SendInBlue has since improved upon its deliverability.

With SendInBlue’s free plan, you’ll have access to a vast array of templates, personalization, A/B testing, contact management, workflow editor, and real-time reporting. Like the other tools mentioned, the software is easy to use, although the main interface can sometimes offer too many options and feel overwhelming.

SendInBlue offers up to 300 email sends per day (which is roughly 9,000 emails/month) for free with unlimited contacts. Upgrade solutions start at $25/month for 40,000 emails and no daily sending limit.

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Image source: SendInBlue

7. Mailjet

With Mailjet’s free plan, you’ll have access to unlimited contacts, APIs and webhooks, an advanced email editor, and advanced statistics. However, you won’t have access to A/B testing or automation features. The Mailjet interface is also simple to use, so you won’t have to spend a ton of time getting familiar with the service. Since you get full API access as part of the free plan, Mailjet is suited for businesses that require technical adjustments.

Mailjet’s free plan offers up to 200 emails per day (that’s roughly 6,000 emails per month). You can upgrade starting at $8.69 per month for 30,000 emails and no daily sending limit.

Image Source: Mailjet

8. Benchmark

If you work for a business that is experiencing incredible growth, yet isn’t already using an email marketing service, you might want to check out Benchmark’s free email tool. The tool is well-equipped with premium features, and designed to cater to the enterprise-level business.

With the free version of Benchmark, you can use the drag-and-drop editor, select from various templates, use sign-up forms, build basic drip campaigns, and use the list hygiene feature. Benchmark is user-friendly and easy to implement.

However, there’s no option for A/B testing or automation features on the free tool. Furthermore, contacts can’t be added via list import in the free plan. You can only email contacts who fill out Benchmark subscriber forms.

Benchmark offers a free Starter Plan with up to 2,000 subscribers and 14,000 emails per month. The next upgrade plan starts at $13.99 for up to 600 subscribers and unlimited email sends per month.

Image source: Benchmark

9. MailerLite

Although it has “lite” in the name, MailerLite is actually a good solution for businesses starting out and looking to grow. The service is ideal for small businesses needing to send bulk marketing emails. It’s also well equipped with preview features so you can preview your email on desktop and mobile before sending it. However, the API and integration capabilities are not as robust as some of the other options in this list.

Mailerlite offers 12,000 emails per month with up to 1,000 subscribers. The next upgrade tier costs $10, and it unlocks all features for up to 1,000 subscribers.

Image source: Mailerlite

10. ExpressPigeon

ExpressPigeon provides a good solution for businesses using small list sizes but sending to very high-priority subscribers. With ExpressPigeon, you can effortlessly build and personalize emails, automate email responses, and send high volume emails.

Best of all, you get access to all of the premium features with the free plan — however, there are low send and subscriber limits. ExpressPigeon is regarded as having some of the best customer satisfaction scores in the industry.

ExpressPigeon offers a free plan that allows 1,000 messages for up to 500 subscribers, and one user only. The price of each additional user is $100 per month. The next upgrade tier is a huge price jump: $1,000 per month for up to 100,000 subscribers and two million emails.

Image source: ExpressPigeon

Now, you have a better sense of the best free email marketing tools at your disposal. Fortunately, you don’t need to commit to any service. You can try these tools out depending on your business’ needs, then select the one most ideal for you.

If you’re looking to get started building incredible email marketing campaigns, we recommend that you try HubSpot Free CRM and Email. You’ll be able to see the power of the CRM behind every email interaction with your customers, so that you deliver remarkable experiences.

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2019 YouTube Demographics [New Data]

Conventional wisdom tells you that every organization’s target audience gets a consistent dose of video content from YouTube. But, in reality, assuming your exact buyer persona frequents the video platform is a risky move to make.

To truly build a presence on YouTube, you need to know if your target audience actually watches content on the video platform. Otherwise, you could waste a ton of precious time and resources creating content that your buyer persona will never see.

If you want to avoid this mishap and make sure YouTube is a viable marketing channel for your brand, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn about the video platform’s age, geography, gender, education, and household demographics.

2019 YouTube Demographics

YouTube Age Demographics

YouTube Geography Demographics

YouTube Gender Demographics

YouTube Education Demographics

YouTube Household Demographics

Buzz Marketing: What It Is & How to Do It Right

On Sunday, the first episode of the last season of Game of Thrones not only made its fans the happiest people in the world for an hour, but it also shattered HBO’s record for the most amount of viewers a single episode of a show has ever attracted — 17.4 million.

What’s arguably more impressive than the amount of viewers Game of Thrones’ season eight premiere captivated, though, is how long its fans have been waiting to watch this episode — 20 months.

Game of Thrones is considered one of the best television shows ever made. It boasts a gripping and sophisticated storyline that’s chock full of twists, turns, and your favorite characters’ deaths, so there’s no wonder why the series has created a cult-like following and an irrational fear of admitting you’ve never seen a single episode of the show in your life.

However, Game of Thrones’ masterful storytelling isn’t the only reason why it’s season eight premiere broke HBO’s ratings record. The show’s marketing & advertising team also generated huge amounts of buzz for its final season and successfully sustained it for nearly two years.

Two months before the final season of Game of Thrones premiered, Bud Light aired one of their Bud Knight advertisements during Super Bowl 53. But half way through the commercial, audiences immediately realized that this wasn’t just another hilariously witty Bud Knight ad. It was actually an intensely dramatic Game of Thrones ad.

Since almost every Game of Thrones fan recommends the show to all their friends, which generates a lot of word-of-mouth marketing, the series doesn’t really need any influencers promoting it.

However, Bud Light’s willingness to share one of their most-watched ads of the year with HBO and kill off the Bud Knight, one of their most popular mascots, to endorse Game of Thrones reveals how much the Beer company truly loves the show. And this amount of support not only skyrocketed the already astronomical level of hype for Game of Thrones’ final season, but it also convinced the airheads like me who hadn’t watched a single episode of the show to start binging its first seven seasons.

Game of Thrones also built hype for its final season by launching a Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, running an influencer marketing campaign with celebrities, like Jimmy Kimmel, T-Pain, and Aaron Rodgers, encouraging fans to rewatch the first seven seasons of the show to fully prepare themselves for season eight, and setting up Game of Thrones-themed blood drives and meet-the-cast events that supported autism research and physical rehabilitation programs.

How Buzz Marketing Can Backfire On Your Brand

Buzz marketing might seem like the most effective way to build as much hype as possible for your new product launch. But, before you start strategizing your next buzz marketing campaign, it’s crucial to remember that the new product or service you’re generating buzz for needs to meet the expectations your campaign sets. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint your customers, make them lose trust in you, and damage your brand equity.

For instance, in 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule organized a music festival called Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. To generate as much buzz as possible for the event, they paid some of the most notable social media influencers, like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski, to fly down to the Bahamas, act in their promo video, and post the video to their Instagram profiles. With the help of some promotion of the festival’s stellar acts, luxury villas, and gourmet meals, Fyre Festival sold over 4,000 tickets.

Unfortunately for the attendees, Fyre Festival’s marketing materials and the event itself were a complete scam. Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals their guests paid thousands of dollars for, McFarland and Ja Rule gave them tents and cheese sandwiches. Worst of all, there was no cell phone service, portable toilets, or running water at the festival, so thousands of people were basically left stranded on the island. And once the truth about Fyre Festival started circulating throughout social media, all of the festival’s acts cancelled.

Shortly after Fyre Festival’s epic failure, its parent company, Fyre Media, shut down and Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and forced to repay $26 million to his company’s investors.

Your spectacle needs substance.

Game of Thrones’ and Fyre Festival’s buzz marketing campaign reveals an absolute truth about the viral marketing strategy: you can build all the hype in the world for your new product or service, but if it doesn’t meet the expectations your buzz marketing campaign sets, your customers will feel duped and lose trust in you, wreaking havoc on your brand. Even worse, Netflix could make a documentary about your artful deception

6 Tips to Stop Thinking About Work After Work Hours [Infographic]

We all know the feeling — it’s 11 p.m., your laptop is off, and you’re lying in bed thinking, Shoot … did I remember to send that email?

Or maybe, out to dinner with friends, you get a fantastic idea for your new marketing campaign and can’t wait to tell your boss, so you slack her immediately, even though it’s 6:15.

Work inevitably sneaks into our lives, even after traditional work hours are over. But without good work-life balance, you’ll ultimately burnout.

Plus, not thinking about work for a span of time can actually make you more productive at the office — so it’s critical you learn how to stop thinking about work after hours.

Fortunately, CashNetUSA put together this complete guide to help you properly recharge during your off-hours. Take a look, and use these tips to stop thinking about work when you’re not, well, at work.

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